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Friday, March 27, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-27-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 27, 1915:

Here’s the funny thing about [Bud] Davis, the rookie twirler from Virginia who has been showing so well with the Athletics this season. For four years Davis always threw left-handed. Now he is a right-handed pitcher.

That’s weird.

In fact, nearly everything about Davis as a ballplayer was weird. He put up a 98 ERA+ at age 19 in his only MLB season, then never again appeared in the major leagues. A pretty good season if you just glance at it, but somehow Davis put up that decent ERA despite walking 52 batters and hitting six more in 66.2 innings. Nearly half of the runs he allowed were unearned.

He went from the majors in 1915 all the way down to class C ball in 1916, pitching poorly for Augusta in the Sally League. Eventually Davis decided to forget about pitching and become a first baseman, and it went spectacularly well. In 1924, with Okmulgee in the Western Association, he hit .400 with 51 home runs and 112 extra-base hits. Bud Davis continued to put up huge offensive numbers everywhere he went, even in the highest minors, but he never did make it back to the big leagues.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-26-2015

March 26, 1915, American pilot Phil Rader, fighting for the French in World War I, writes for United Press:

What Christy Mathewson could do to the Germans near our trenches!

The Germans are masters of new tricks, or of adapring old tricks to new purposes, but their hand-grenade stunt would put them at the mercy of the great American ball players.
...
I used to watch the Germans toss these bombs like schoolgirls or like boys pitching nickels at a crack…Eugene Jacobs, the man who left his butcher shop in Pawtucket to come and fight the Germans because they had destroyed his birthplace in Belgium, saved his life and perhaps several other lives one day by catching one of these bombs, as if it were a baseball. He threw it back, and it exploded in one of the German trenches.

Maybe baseball was good training for soldiers using grenades, but I’d strongly counsel the old-timey people to keep Christy Mathewson as far from the war as possible. I mean it, guys, don’t let him join the military. Trust me on this.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-25-2015

Milwaukee Journal, March 25, 1915:

“CUBS A FRIGHTFUL BUNCH WITH WHICH TO WIN PENNANT, BUT—” it depends on which team gets their GOAT.

I don’t have any idea what this is talking about, unless someone from 1945 invented a time machine and went back 30 years. That’s a weirdly prescient obscure reference.

Dan Lee tips his cap respectfully to JackVincennes Posted: March 25, 2015 at 08:25 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, dugout, goats, history

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cooperstown Confidential: The Enigmatic Life of Alex Johnson – The Hardball Times

The recent death of Alex Johnson brings to an end one of the most controversial and enigmatic chapters in baseball history. Even as we try to put the many conflicts of Johnson into proper perspective, I’m not sure whether to characterize him as a sympathetic victim of circumstances or as an antisocial figure who unnecessarily made life miserable for those around him. Or maybe, it’s a matter of both.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 24, 2015 at 10:25 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: alex johnson, history

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-24-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 24, 1915:

The break has finally come, and it looks as if the Cincinnati club will have to release Manager [Buck] Herzog or accept the resignation of Secretary Harry Stephens. These two officials of the club had a big row at Covington…

The Reds’ training field in Covington, Louisiana was frozen and unplayable, so Herzog wanted the players in New Orleans, where the players could train. The problem was that the Reds were supposed to play an exhibition game against New Orleans in Covington, and the New Orleans owner refused to play the games in his own park.

Got it? Good. I don’t know why he wouldn’t want the games in his home stadium, but whatever.

This standoff was resolved when nothing happened. Neither Herzog nor Stephens resigned and the club decided to keep them both.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-23-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 23, 1915:

Bob Steele, young left-hander, tells a good one on Calvo, a Cuban outfielder who was with the Victoria club in the Northwestern league. It seems the squad was traveling by boat from Victoria to Vancouver. The club jokesters began kidding Calvo and one of them told the Cuban that the boat had to go through a tunnel in order to get into Vancouver. This sounded interesting to the Cuban and he sat up all night waiting to see the boat go through that tunnel.

I once convinced my wife that we had to go through customs in order to travel from Ontario to Quebec. Yes, I’m a terrible person.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-20-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 20, 1915:


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-18-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 18, 1915:

Ty Cobb is right-handed, but plays golf left-handed because that is the way he bats and he doesn’t want to risk his form.

He beats up disabled fans with both hands.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Black Ball, Part 2 « Our Game

Second in a series by Jules Tygiel.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 17, 2015 at 08:58 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: history, negro leagues

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-17-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 17, 1915:

Almost all of the Phils are camera fiends and never go to the park without black boxes and films. Eddie Burns and Joe Oeschger get good results from vest-pocket kodaks.
...
Jack Ryan of Washington, having been hit so often on the toes by wild pitchers, has rigged up a device in the shape of a half portion of rubber fire hose, which arches over the toe of each shoe. “Let ‘em peg away now—they can’t hurt me,” Jack says.
...
Manager Robinson of the Dodgers was knocked down by a grape fruit recently. It may be said, however, that the grape fruit was dropped 500 feet from an aeroplane and that Robbie tired to catch the sphere as it came down. Had it been a ball the Brooklyn manager would have been severely injured.

He should have covered his face with part of a fire hose.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-16-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 16, 1915:

The Tampa promoters are behind financially on the Cubs’ games and are trying to attract the fans.
...
Merito Costa [sic] of Washington is developing into a corking good third baseman. It seems a pity that he cannot throw right handed so that his usefulness might be enhanced 50 per cent.
...
Dummy Taylor, former New York Giant pitcher, has signed as umpire in the Kansas State league. Dummy will not be hampered by his lack of speech or hearing as he will use a whistle to designate balls and strikes.

Deaf mute umpires would certainly reduce the time spent by managers coming out of the dugout to argue.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-13-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 13, 1915:

[St. Paul owner Joe Cantillon] claims to have traded [Bill] Hopper for a bird dog, and a few days before reporting for spring ptractice, in his home town, Jackson, Tenn., the pitcher was arrested on a complaint of a neighbor who charged that Hopper had assaulted him.

“Why did you attack the man?” asked the justice of the peace. “He insulted me,” replied Hopper. “What did he say to you?” persisted the guardian of the law. “Say!” shouted Hopper, almost beside himself with indignation. “He said ‘bow wow.’”

Hopper was a bit of a dog for the 1915 Senators, allowing 55 baserunners in 31.1 innings while putting up a 65 ERA+.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-12-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 12, 1915:

[John] Peters did not want to go to Detroit this year. His objection to Detroit was that it was a major league city.
...
[Peters] admits that he can throw as few men can, and a comparison of his own .307 average and the swatting marks claimed by the majority of catchers, has convinced him that he need not worry about his hitting. But he doesn’t know baseball yet, knows that he doesn’t know the game, and doesn’t care to palm himself off as a wise guy.

That’s pretty admirable, if a bit weird.

Anyway, Peters played one game for the 1915 Tigers, then went back to the minors. He didn’t get a stable big league job until 1921, and acquitted himself pretty well. The Kansas City native hit .268 with a 79 OPS+ in two seasons as a backup catcher with the Phillies before heading back to his hometown and finishing his career there.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-11-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 11, 1915:

Beals Becker, who is a member of the squad of sluggers of the Phillies, has a glove which looks as if it were the second cousin to an aligator [sic] hide. This glove resembles one of the relics from Noah’s Ark, if there are such in existence. The glove is discolored and it has a weakened appearance, as though it had laid out on the grass many nights.
...
In the middle of the glove there is a good sized hole cut, for Becker, like many other players, believes it is easier to catch a fly ball with it in this condition.

I have never in my life heard of such a thing.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-10-2015

Tigers infielder George Moriarty quoted in the Pittsburgh Press, March 10, 1915:

The funniest thing I ever saw on a ball field wasn’t a darned bit funny to me when it happened and it was at least two years before I could see how funny it was.
...
It happened in our world’s series with the Chicago Cubs—the first one.
...
[Tigers pitcher Wild Bill Donovan] caught a curve and drive the ball hard on the line to right field. He had the happiest brand of his smile all over his face when he hit that ball. He started down to first at an easy lope, smiling proudly. I wasn’t watching the ball; my eye was still on Bill and suddenly his face changed. You never saw such a transformation scene in your life.
...
[Cubs right fielder Frank] Schulte had sprinted forward the instant the ball was hit and scooping it on the second bound had shot to first base.

I’m gonna call BS. He’s correct that in the third inning of Game Four of the 1907 World Series, Bill Donovan grounded out to the right fielder. The problem is that Moriarty didn’t play for the Tigers until 1909. Maybe he was at the game and saw it happen, but there’s no reason to think Moriarty would have been upset about this happening to someone on another team.


Monday, March 09, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-9-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 9, 1915:

The testimony of several big league ball players will be heard in the Spokane [Washington] county Superior court when the suit brought by M.B. Martin, a local photographer, for damages of $2,540 against “Cozy” Dolan, noted outfielder and baseball comedian, comes to trial.

Martin alleges that Dolan grabbed the crank of his motion picture machine during an exhibition game [in Spokane] last October, between the all-National and all-American baseball teams, and stripped the gears of the machine.
...
[Fred] Snodgrass will testify that he heard Martin give the ball player permission to turn the crank of the machine, and that he had his hand on Dolan’s arm while he did so, the attorneys declare. Afterward he continued to use the machine without any complaint, they ellege [sic].

I don’t know how much Dolan earned in 1914, but I can’t imagine it was much more than the amount for which he was being sued. Adjusted for inflation, $2,540 in 1914 is worth more $60,500 in 2015 dollars.

However much money Dolan made, and however the lawsuit turned out, Cozy was looking a bit for extra money in 1924. He offered Phillies shortstop Heinie Sand $500 to throw a game, Sand turned him in, and Dolan was banned for life.


Baseball Ops: Welcome to the Evolution « Our Game

Beane is still a step or two ahead.

Twelve years later, the debate is mainly over. The specific arguments raised by Moneyball have appropriately been adopted or rejected, the best run teams today are using both traditional scouting and evidence-based analytics, and the two schools are working together. Whatever advantage Beane held over his contemporaries in 2003 he holds no longer. Market inefficiencies last only as long as the market stands still, and baseball teams are constantly searching for a new advantage. Within a few years, Beane needed to think of something else.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 09, 2015 at 07:55 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: billy beane, general managers, history

Friday, March 06, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-6-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 6, 1915:

One of the Cub rookies spiked himself in the knee. It was not exactly his fault, however, as he slipped on the soggy field and in some manner managed to get his spikes entangled in his left knee. He will be out of the game for several days.

You’ve gotta be ridiculously flexible to spike yourself in the knee. I don’t even think I could do that in QWOP.

Elsewhere in the Pittsburgh Press 100 years ago, mentions of two strange young pitchers (Carmen Hill and Lee Meadows) who *gasp* wear glasses, and a banner headline reading LINER IN FLAMES right above a story about how the Lusitania managed to avoid German U-boats.

Dan Lee tips his cap respectfully to JackVincennes Posted: March 06, 2015 at 08:02 AM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Joe Posnanski’s Top 100 Players: No. 40: Eddie Collins

Annnd, we’re back!

There is no satisfying way to compare ancient players from Deadball to the players today. For instance: There is an argument to be made, a strong one, that Eddie Collins was one of the ten best player in baseball history. If you treat the baseball of his time as equal to all other times, you almost have to rank him in that stratosphere. He ranks tenth In wins Above Replacement. He hit .333 with more than 3,000 hits, more than 700 stolen bases, more than 1,800 runs scored — only Ty Cobb has that combination…

How can you guess what Eddie Collins would be in 2015? He was a 5-foot-9, 175-pound competitor, a peerless bunter, a breathtaking base runner, a player with a brilliant baseball mind. Would that game play in 2015? Collins averaged — AVERAGED — more than 20 sacrifice hits per season over his 25-year career. Last year, no player had more than 13 sacrifice bunts. We don’t have complete information, but based on what we do know it seems Collins routinely would get thrown out 30 times a season attempting to steal. That obviously wouldn’t play these days. Collins seemed to get on base a lot with bunts … but even his admirers would say that he wasn’t breathtaking fast, he was just a great bunter. Would that work in 2015 against specialized defenses?

Then again he was just such a smart player — you have to believe he would adjust to modern times. Would have become a faster Dustin Pedroia? A Joe Morgan type? Your guess is probably as irrelevant as mine.

The District Attorney Posted: March 05, 2015 at 02:12 PM | 146 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, eddie collins, history, joe posnanski, white sox

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-5-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 5, 1915:

They are counting 10 on Hunter Hill, the Texan who startled by St. Louis by carrying a gun in his back pocket even on the playing field. Hunter has grown fat and can’t pick them up any more.

A gun in your pocket on the field? That seems ill-advised. Tim Raines’s cocaine vials are no longer the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of an MLB player keeping in his back pocket during a game.


Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-4-2015

Grantland Rice in the Pittsburgh Press, March 4, 1915:

Dear sir—

In your opinion could a ball club be picked from those who live in the south good enough to beat or make an even fight against a club picked from northern players?  E.H.K.

The north would have a decided margin in pitchers, catchers and infielders. The south’s big edge would come in the outfield play, where Cobb, Speaker, Jackson and Milan would close out the debate.

I’ll give this a shot in the comments. My border will follow the Mason-Dixon Line, Ohio River, and the Missouri Compromise line. Players will be classified by birthplace and starters will be determined by Career WAR.

Dan Lee tips his cap respectfully to JackVincennes Posted: March 04, 2015 at 08:27 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-3-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 3, 1915:

A letter from [Washington] Pitcher Bert Gallia, which reached Manager Griffith this morning, explains why the Texan has not reported at Charlottesville with the advance squad.

Gallia writes that his mother is dangerously ill, and that it may be several days before he can leave Woodboro, Tex., where he lives, for Charlottesville.

“Dear Mr. Griffith, Please excuse Bert’s absence. He is helping me recover from an illness. Signed, Gallia’s Mother.”

Gallia’s mom appears to have recovered, because this article quotes a letter he sent her in 1918. As for Bert, he had his best season in 1915, winning 17 games while putting up a 130 ERA+ in 259.2 innings.


Monday, March 02, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 3-2-2015

Pittsburgh Press, March 2, 1915:

Oscar Theander Harstad, whom Cleveland Indians got from the Northwestern league, turned loose on Addie Joss’ delivery in his first workout and is hailed the first eye opener among the rookies.

I’m not the sort of guy to pooh-pooh other people’s achievements, but just about anyone could have hit Addie Joss’s fastball in 1915. Addie had been dead for four years.

So I’m going to go ahead and call this report fictitious.

Anyhoo, Harstad made the team as a reserve pitcher and put up 82 innings of 89 ERA+ ball in 1915, his only season in the big leagues.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-27-2015

Washington Times, February 27, 1915:

Six major league ball teams are today en route to their training headquarters, and within a few days you fans will have the greatest kind of a feast over the news which is coming from the various camps regarding the development of the players.
...
The Athletics will [train] at Jacksonville, while the Brooklyns will proceed by rail to Daytona, and the Phillies to St. Petersburg, Fla.

The other teams which are traveling south today are the Chicago Cubs, who left the Windy City last night, the Indians, or Cleveland American League team, which goes to San Anton [sic], Tex., and the St. Louis Cardinals, which are guided to Hot Wells, Tex., by Miller J. Huggins.

Interesting to note that even though the locations of Spring Training camps have changed, the length of camp has stayed about the same. They started camp a bit later in 1915, but the season also started later.

Dan Lee tips his cap respectfully to JackVincennes Posted: February 27, 2015 at 08:33 AM | 62 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-26-2015

Pittsburgh Press, February 26, 1915:

[During a team jogging drill, White Sox pitcher Reb] Russell repeatedly lagged behind the others and once when passing the home plate, where the manager stood the boss called: “Show some speed, Tex. Where’s your ‘pep’?”

“What do you think this is, my birthday?” was the rather sarcastic reply of the bulky athlete.

“Well, it isn’t any holiday,” came the answer from the manager. “This isn’t a vacation trip. You’re out here to work.”
...
The affair was whispered about among the other boys rather apprehensively after the practice was over.

Russell is a pretty fascinating player, often overlooked when people talk about the best two-way players in baseball history. He pitched in the majors for six years, put up a 121 OPS+ in 1291.2 innings, led the league in fewest walks per nine innings twice, and allowed a total of two home runs in his final 807.2 innings.

After an elbow injury made it impossible for him to pitch, Reb converted to the outfield and hit .323/.377/.568 (142 OPS+) in two seasons with the Pirates as a position player. He wasn’t much of a defensive outfielder, so those gaudy hitting numbers weren’t enough to keep him in the majors. Russell headed to the American Association and continued to put up eye-popping hitting numbers. He retired with a lifetime minor league batting average north of .320.

Dan Lee tips his cap respectfully to JackVincennes Posted: February 26, 2015 at 10:03 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, reb russell

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